Draft North Wales ‘dark skies’ policy going out for public consultation
The public are being asked to check whether planning guidance designed to reduce light pollution in an area of outstanding natural beauty needs any alterations.
The supplementary information for developments affecting the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was discussed at Denbighshire council’s recent planning meeting.
Essentially it sets out the policy for developments within the AONB which seek to guarantee everyone from astronomers to the casual observer can actually see the night sky in all its glory.
The guidance, which will go out for public consultation this month, is looking to stop poorly designed external lighting which inhibits the views of the night sky – which will be a material planning consideration in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB.
The knock-on effect is lighting with a “cooler” colour temperature can also use less energy.
However it can also have major benefits for nocturnal wildlife, by reducing the impact of humans on flora and fauna’s natural environment.
As an example of the effects of poor lighting came in 2015, when a change in street lighting from sodium to lower power LED lights revived the glow work population on the headland, after it was brought to the attention of Conwy county council by amateur naturalist Jenni Cox.
Her research showed male glow worms were distracted by the sodium lights and it stopped them from seeking females.
After the changes in lighting the males started noticing the females again and population numbers boomed.
Lead member for housing and communities, Cllr Tony Thomas, said the guidance would also help make the area attractive to tourists, keen to sample the unspoilt, natural environment.
The guidance recommends lighting controls, shielding light from escaping upwards, using lights which emit a colour temperature of no more than 3000 Kelvin and devices such as motion sensors to limit the amount of time exterior lights are used.
Once the policy is adopted it will affect planning decisions in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham councils, who all have areas within the AONB.
They area also seeking the recognition the International Dark Sky Association to designate the area as a Dark Sky Community.
The AONB spreads from the borders of Prestatyn, as far as Llangollen in the south and near Chirk and Corwen in the west.
Councillors unanimously agreed the document should be sent out for public consultation.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter